Books and magazines

We initially learned about gardening by watching the old PBS series Crockett's Victory Garden and reading the old Organic Gardening magazines. Both were excellent ways to learn about gardening, though we now shudder when we remember all the chemicals Jim Crockett used (and which we then used also). His gardening passion and gentle ways contributed to our interest in gardening, but I'm glad we learned from Rodale's Organic Gardening magazine that those chemicals aren't necessary.

But both the TV program and the magazine taught us about the wonders of compost!

Growing the Good Life by Michele Owens

Growing the Good Life

Growing the Good Life: Why a Vegetable Garden Will Make You Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise in many ways is the edible gardening equivalent of the habitat gardening classic Noah's Garden by Sara Stein. It's a "why to" book rather than a "how to" book. An excellent book about the many reasons why it's important to use at least some of your land to grow edible plants!

Our only reservation about this book is that she seems to be unaware of the importance of native plants in the rest of her land. Sigh.

This Organic Life by Joan Gussow

This Organic Life

This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader is an inspiring book about a family's journey in creating a vegetable garden along the Hudson River. Joan Gussow is a nutrition professor at Columbia University I believe. We marveled at their perseverance in gardening in a location that routinely becomes flooded. They manage to harvest an enormous amount of food, but, we kept thinking, why didn't they move to a location that didn't have such challenges? We can relate to their gardening passion—sort of.

This book inspired us to try ground cherries. We had never heard of these before, but now we grow them every year. They make wonderful jam that tastes like nothing else than ground cherries. (Similarly, spicebush (Lindera benzoin) has a fragrance that can only be described as "spicebush fragrance.")

Organic Gardening magazine

It's hard to know whether to recommend this magazine or not. We like it partly because of loyalty to the old, unsophisticated newsprint-like magazines of the 1970s, but it has substituted beautiful photographs and slick production values for the magazines that were chock-full of useful information. Not a good trade-off if you're looking to learn rather than idly admiring beautiful photos of gorgeous gardens. There's some useful information, but not a lot. It's also very annoying that it occasionally has articles about the value of native plants, but it still has frequent articles featuring non-natives. I guess the magazine thinks it can have it both ways, but this schizophrenic approach just annoys us.


  • Organic Gardening—Lots of useful information, but with the same caveat as with the magazine: a complete ignorance of the value of native plants. Though many if not most of our edible plants aren't native (though we're trying to include as many native edibles as possible), it's hard to understand why OG doesn't promote natives in the rest of the yard.